Councillors slam 18 flats towncentre plan as 'stylistic clone'

Tuesday 1st February 2022 7:00 am

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TOWN councillors have voiced opposition to the proposed development of a four-storey block of 18 flats next to Ross-on-Wye’s historic Market House.

S Andrews & Son of Pwllheli want to redevelop and extend the shop and flats at 2-5 Market Place, beside the 370-year-old Grade II*-listed landmark in the town’s conservation zone.

But Ross-on-Wye’s planning committee has raised objections, slamming claims of "a building of high design and architectural merit".

Instead, members have labelled it an "entirely predictable stylistic clone of every other grey and white development that is the current architectural vogue".

"Development should be specifically predicated on environmental enhancement - notably not degrading further the ’at risk’ historic central area," they say.

In all, the proposed development comprises 10 one-bedroom and eight two-bedroom flats, all to be sold at market rate.

While the frontage onto the street is set to remain the same under plans submitted to Herefordshire Council, a modern four-storey block will be built at the back within the existing property footprint, housing five of the proposed flats.

The applicant says the redevelopment will "regenerate a site which is currently partly vacant and is serving no useful purpose, in addition to introducing a building of high design and architectural merit into the Ross-on-Wye conservation area."

They say the front will be "relatively unchanged", with the existing shop premises refurbished and the upper floors extended and made into flats.

The roof level on either side of the central four-storey section will be raised, and a section of the existing roof replaced by a new "roof garden and terraced area".

Behind this, a modern four-storey block will be built within the existing property footprint, housing five of the proposed flats.

But the town council has taken issue, claiming in their draft minutes that the proposed increase in height at the front from an extra storey, plus grey-clad squared-off roof line, are "out of keeping" with the historic conservation zone.

It says: "The result would be to dominate, and not complement, the setting of the historic Market House and the other, Grade II-listed, nearby buildings."

The town council wants the front line of the end sections to be moved back so they are not visible from street level, or sloped back to create a ’mansard’ roof with window dormers, while the cladding colour should be changed.

"In both cases the flank walls at the third floor boundary should be treated more sympathetically than with grey cladding," add councillors.

"In either case, and with a little imagination, one or two small balcony areas could be created.

"It could be that the most financially viable means of accommodating the need to take back the new roofline would be to create a single south facing, penthouse-style apartment."

The town council also wants "alternative rendered views" from vantage points in the centre of the town, and says the development at the back will be "clearly identifiable as from the first third of the 21st century".

It also calls for the delivery access at the back to be retained, the turning sweeps to be shown on the plan, and all parking spaces provided with charging points.

It’s not the first time plans have been put forward to redevelop the building, with planning permission approved in 2011 for the demolition of the "redundant retail unit and construction of four self-contained apartments".

The new scheme next to the 1650s-built Market House has split opinion among townspeople, with some labelling it "awful", "appalling" and "hideous", while others say it would be an "improvement" on a partly vacant town centre site.

But a woman who describes herself as a "Historic Properties Steward at English Heritage" posted: "Absolutely brilliant⦠frontage remains, back is refurbished, housing and parking provided, area at the rear becomes saferâ¦"

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